Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mental illness is a shared responsibility: Raymond's letter to the press

Raymond's letter on the above matter is published in The New Paper today, Tuesday 21 September 2010, page 18.

I refer to the report, “This is her flat but.. this is her bedroom (The New Paper, Sept 11).

The case of Madam Mainam Mahmud and her mentally ill daughter shows yet again how mental illness without family and community support can cause havoc.

Many family members will adopt a hands-off attitude when a loved one is stricken with mental illness. That's the harsh reality.

Caregiving should be a shared responsibility and I hope that the Government will drive home this point.

People with mental illness can recover if they have a sense of belonging and worthiness.

In the case of the daughter, who is equipped with a science degree from the National University of Singapore, I am confident that if she is gainfully employed and continues her treatment, she will recover and go on to lead a normal life.

But an all-out effort must be made to eliminate the prejudices and barriers that those with mental illnesses face.

To tackle mental illness, the Government, the mental health-care providers, voluntary welfare organisations and the community support must play their part.

For a start, the Institute of Mental Health can send out a team to see how best they can help the family.

Next, the relevant town council should help to clean up the Havelock Road flat as the unhygienic condition that the daughter has created because of her obsessive compulsive disorder can be harmful to her, as well to the residents in the nearby flats.

Placing Madam Maniam in a nursing home temporarily will enable the 73-year-old woman to live with dignity.

Let us work together to ensure that the mentally ill and their families have a place in our society. And that they too, can call Singapore the best home to live in.


Monday, September 6, 2010

National Service Recognition Award -Older men deserve recognition too - Raymond's letter to the press

My letter to The New Paper is published today, Monday 6 September 2010, page 16.

I refer to the report, “A reward for each NS milestone completed”(The New Paper, September 1).

The new National Service Recognition Award (NSRA) announced by the Prime Minister in his National Day Rally speech is a good scheme.

It will clearly make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. Most certainly, it will benefit the younger generation.

But I am deeply disappointed that our senior citizens who have also contributed to the defence and stability of Singapore for many years have not been given even a fraction of this incentive.

Why is that?

Male senior citizens have also made sacrifices in performing national service. Their families have spent days and nights alone when their loved ones carried out their military training in Singapore as well as overseas.

I do not buy the argument by Minister of State for Defence Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, that those “who have finished the cycle have benefited from other awards over the years”.

He also said: “The policy is not retroactive... We have to move on and the next generation will benefit.”

I find his statement insensitive to the feelings of older men.

There is far too much emphasis and support for the younger generation, and even though our older males have shown loyalty and commitment to the nation, their contributions do not seem as valued.

If the PAP founding fathers are recognised, why are our older males not given the same recognition as the younger NS men?

I appeal to the Government to rethink its policies so that they will benefit our elderly folks.

Given that many are likely to fall ill in their twilight years, I suggest that, perhaps half of the NSRA incentive (which can amount up to $10,500 for commanders) be given to our older men who have completed national service.

The money can, at least, defray part of their health-care costs.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Raymond's letter to the New Paper: Foreign workers- Give them better support

My letter on the above subject was published in The New Paper on Thursday 2 September 2010.

I refer to the report, “His life was in my trembling hands” (The New Paper, Aug 31).

Most certainly Shin Min Daily News reporter, Miss Law Shu Hui who emphatised with construction worker Wang Yong should be commended for reclaiming a life which could have been lost.

Even though Miss Law has been a reporter for slightly more than a year, she found it in her heart to show love and concern to another human being.

It didn't matter to her if he was a Singaporean or a foreigner. She came forward because she knew that the China national was in distress.

That, to me, is what the Singapore Spirit is all about.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech that more foreign workers were needed to keep the economy growing.

Given that more foreigners are set to land on our shores, we need to think of ways of giving them better support as well.

Employers who do not treat their workers fairly should be taken to task. Also, are foreign workers allowed to join unions to proctect them againts unfair work practices?

If not, perhaps, it is time to review the policies and allow these workers to have their own unions that can comes under the ambit of the relevant authorities.

There should also be support groups that can counsel, comfort and find quick solutions to those who are struggling to cope.

Our voluntary welfare organisations in the mental health-care industries could come alongside the Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (Home) and start support groups.

These would help those who are going through the stresses of life to cope better.